21South Florida
31 - 24 Final - 2OT
  for this game

South Florida escapes with OT win over UCF

Sep 8, 2008 - 6:24 PM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- The game was on the line for Matt Grothe and South Florida. That was when the Bulls turned to a Taurus to bail them out.

Grothe threw for 346 yards and connected with Taurus Johnson for the go-ahead score as 18th-ranked South Florida escaped with a 31-24 overtime victory over Central Florida on Saturday.

Grothe, who completed 23-of-42 passes for three touchdowns, found Johnson over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown in the overtime to give South Florida the lead. The Bulls' defense stopped UCF quarterback Michael Greco on a 4th-and-5 run inches before the first down marker to seal the win.

"Taurus Johnson had a great game and Matt (Grothe) hit him really well," South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt said. "Matt is a competitor and I love the guy. I really do. You could not ask me any more from Matt. We put him in some tough positions that we probably shouldn't of, but I am really proud of Matt."

Johnson had six catches for 143 yards and Cedric Hill added a pair of touchdown grabs in a third quarter that saw the Bulls take a 24-10 lead.

"Taurus did a good job of going up and getting the ball," Grothe said. "He said he got me if I would throw him the ball and he did a good job of catching it. I was more worried at the beginning of the game then the end. I have confidence in our defense and offense."

UCF (1-1), led by Greco, scored on a pair of drives late in the fourth quarter to knot the game at 24-24. The lefthanded Greco, who was 17-of-32 for 150 yards, connected with Corey Rabazinski for a 13-yard score, then threw a 31-yard TD to Rocky Ross with 1:40 remaining to tie the game.

The Bulls had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Delbert Alvarado missed a 42-yard field goal attempt.

South Florida (2-0) took a 7-0 lead on its first possession, a five-play, 58-yard drive punctuated with a 14-yard touchdown run by Moise Plancher.

The Knights, who were trounced by the Bulls, 64-12, last season and are 0-4 in the short series between the in-state rivals, answered quickly when Joe Burnett returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to tie the game at 7-7.

"To beat a team four times in a row is pretty tough to do," Leavitt said. "Especially Central Florida, they are a very good football team. To come in here and win after the day we had last year against them."

Despite being separated by less than 100 miles, the four-year contract between the two schools will not be renewed, and South Florida will begin a series with Miami next season.